Fuelled by passion Egyptian Rania ElRafie is ready to take on the next role in her journey with the APO Group

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Feb 21, 2022

APO Group (www.APO-opa.com), the leading Pan-African communications consultancy and press release distribution service, is delighted to confirm the recent promotion of Rania ElRafie to Group […]

APO Group

APO Group (www.APO-opa.com), the leading Pan-African communications consultancy and press release distribution service, is delighted to confirm the recent promotion of Rania ElRafie to Group Account Director.

ElRafie who is based in Egypt has risen to the new position within less than two years after proving herself to be a consummate professional and dynamic team leader who inspires her colleagues through her dedication and expertise.

Here, we talk to ElRafie about her journey with the APO Group that has seen her grow into the role.

Tell us about your career path and how it led you to becoming part of the APO Group family

In 2003 I joined JWT Group – part of the global WPP organisation – as an internship requirement for attaining my degree from the American University in Dubai. I began in PR from scratch in JWT’s media monitoring division, where I would spend my days scouring the media and putting together reports for clients.

I grew within the organisation to the point where my ability in professional client servicing was soon noticed. I was then made responsible for key accounts, and I began writing English and Arabic press material, while at the same time, developing strong media relations across the Middle East and North Africa regions. I was also responsible for managing global accounts including Diamond Trading Company, DeBeers, Lux Fashion World, Virgin Megastores, MBC Group, Dubai Sports City, AIG, and HSBC within the Buchanan communications group.

After that I joined TBWA Dubai where I worked remotely from Egypt taking the lead on accounts including CNN and P&G brands Gillette and Ariel. I was also responsible for bringing in new business and day-to-day client servicing and management. During that time, I was involved in a lot of CSR activities, specifically with Etihad Airways and the Children’s Cancer hospital in Egypt.

In 2016 I moved onto the role of Corporate Communications and Public Relations Manager for a local real estate developer in Egypt. I handled the corporate comms for the company’s stakeholders, CEO advisory and maintained media relations with local and regional journalists.  Here I played an integral role in crisis management. I left after three years and freelanced for numerous real estate developers who had recognised my expertise and offerings.

In 2020 I was headhunted by the APO Group, and I accepted the role of Account Director where I manage several accounts including Canon, Siemens Gamesa, Vertiv and Web Fontaine. I also support my other team leads on their accounts when needed including NBA, DHL, European Investment Bank, Marriott Hotels amongst others.

What interested you about the APO Group?

I was excited by the prospect of being part of a pan-African organisation who plays a vital part in giving a voice and telling the stories of Africa and its people. APO is a prestigious brand as well as an established name in the industry, delivering Public and Media Relations services on a pan-African scale, and it was something new to me. For the first time as an African I had the opportunity to focus purely on work across the continent. This is where my roots are, and the APO Group’s African narrative attracted me to their vision and offerings. It was an opportunity to promote positive and inspiring news in a field with global players that are all establishing networks across Africa, realising the potential the continent offers. 

I have always believed in seeing the bigger picture outside of your clients and understanding the company you work for that aspires to promote and build. The sense of ownership of working with the APO Group brand is thrilling and a key motivator. I represent the APO Group in my country, to my media and to my stakeholders in the Middle East region and in particular, Egypt.

As a part of APO Group, I have realised that we have an amazing continent – it’s made up of 54 countries, boasting in populations that are very diverse. There are nations here that have populations running from 1 million to more than 170 million people who speak over 2,000 languages and dialects. It is important to understand the differences between them – the cultures, the knowledge of the people and states, the uniqueness to each of them. My position has allowed me to build relationships with people across the globe and, despite having to work remotely, I have formed great relations with key stakeholders, clients, media, and APO team members, which is wonderful.

Tell us a bit more about the client challenges you faced after joining APO and how you overcame them

When I took on the role at APO, I had to hit the ground running. The first three months were particularly challenging because I had to learn very quickly about the account I was assigned to and how best to serve the interests and needs of our client, while delivering exceptional work.

But this did not stop me. I began to learn and understand the client, as well as those of their competitors, at the most intricate levels. I laid out objectives and KPIs and identified the key strengths among team players and then aligned tasks to their roles. There was also a lot of strategic thinking that needed to go into building the brand. Soon the results began to show and our expertise in pushing the boundaries, going the extra mile, and delivering excellent work began.

I am extremely proud and privileged to be able to collaborate with a team who not only deliver what is expected, but never fail to impress.

How would you describe yourself as a leader?

My key strengths are my authenticity and my passion for what I do. When you are motivated by passion and responsibility it is always reflected by your team.

I would describe myself as having a high degree of professionalism and work ethic in what I do, and I strictly adhere to quality standards and policies. In my journey with APO, I have managed to build trust with my colleagues, ensure I’m a good listener and offer thanks, praise, and credit when I witness great work. 

I work with clear KPIs to ensure consistent delivery within and beyond expectations.  I also focus on identifying and recognising the talents and value in my team members to bring out the best version of themselves.

I was fortunate to have found mentorship in my earlier days at JWT PR. I recall that my direct manager, managing director of JWT PR, always commended me on my ability to excel in the numerous positions I worked in. She was proud of my work ethic – I have always gone that extra mile to deliver the best results - and she would push me to believe in myself and stand out within my area of work.

APO Group Founder and Chairman, Nicolas Pompigne-Mognard, has been a guiding light for me, nurturing my abilities, helping with my contact network, and aligning me with the right stakeholders. It’s clear he is passionate about APO, and he has steered me towards uncovering more about myself and realising my full potential.

I would like to instil the same kind of passion in my team, which can guide them to delivering the best work they can.

What advice would you give those starting in the industry and what tips would you give on successful media relations?

Work with passion! If you love what you do, you allow yourself to think out of the box and colour outside the lines.

I would also say see the big picture – explore your company and understand the business objectives and needs beyond those of knowing your client base. Learn to serve your organisation and fall in love with the brands that you work for.

Relationships are key within our industry and nurturing them with team members, clients, media, and stakeholders is crucial in maintaining presence and understanding who you are working with.

In my professional lifetime, another key learning was multi-tasking and being able to deliver my best work across all my clients. Agency life is fast paced and learning to manage your time and tasks is important in meeting targets and forward planning.

Reacting to ElRafie’s promotion to Group Account Director, APO Group Founder and Chairman, Nicolas Pompigne-Mognard (www.Pompigne-Mognard.com) said: “Rania has been exemplary in her role since joining the APO Group. Not only has she shown immense talent and expertise, she has also fundamentally established herself with her clients and team members. She believes in the vision of the APO Group and has proved time over that her passion runs high for the work that she delivers. I am incredibly proud to have been part of her journey, and she truly deserves this recognition.”

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of APO Group.

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